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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Episode of The Dick Cavett Show Show from 1971 with actor Bette Davis
  • Interview with Paul Henreid from 1980
  • Selected-scene commentary on the filmís score by professor Jeff Smith
  • New interview with film critic Farran Smith Nehme on the making of the film
  • New interview with costume historian Larry McQueen
  • Two radio adaptations from 1943 and 1946
  • An essay by scholar Patricia White and a 1937 reflection on acting by Bette Davis

Now, Voyager

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Irving Rapper
1942 | 118 Minutes | Licensor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #1004
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: November 26, 2019
Review Date: December 15, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

Nervous spinster Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is stunted from growing up under the heel of her puritanical Boston Brahmin mother (Gladys Cooper), and remains convinced of her own unworthiness until a kindly psychiatrist (Claude Rains) gives her the confidence to venture out into the world on a South American cruise. Onboard, she finds her footing with the help of an unhappily married man (Paul Henreid). Their thwarted love affair may help Charlotte break free of her motherís gripóbut will she find fulfillment as well as independence? Made at the height of Davisís reign as the queen of the womenís picture and bolstered by an Oscar-winning Max Steiner score, Now, Voyager is a melodrama for the ages, both a rapturous Hollywood romance and a poignant saga of self-discovery.


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents Irving Rapperís Now, Voyager on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this dual-layer disc. The film receives a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode sourced from an all-new 4K restoration, which was scanned primarily from the 35mm nitrate negative. A 35mm nitrate fine-grain was used to fill in missing sections.

As pretty much expected the presentation, on the whole looks, wonderful. There can be a softer look to the photography at times, but the image is still sharp and clear and some of the finer details do manage to be clearly defined. Film grain is also sharp and nicely rendered, never coming off like noise. Contrast is excellent and the grays smoothly transition, further lending the image a wonderful photographic look.

Everyone has done their due diligence regarding the restoration and the image looks remarkably clean. The only thing that sticks out are when the alternate source has obviously been used: the image takes a thicker, dupier look, with heavier blacks and grays. These instances are rare but they stick out just enough because of how wonderful the rest of the film looks.

In the end, itís not a complete surprise, but the image looks really good.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The film comes with a lossless PCM 1.0 monaural soundtrack. Itís a product of the time, sounding a little flat with limited range, but at the very least dialogue and music are both clean and clear.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion starts the features off with a couple of archival interviews with the films stars, Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. Davisí 53-minute interview comes from a 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Show, and it proves to be an absolutely delightful one. They only talk about Now, Voyager briefly (Davis says she imagines her character would have eventually married Rainsí doctor) but they fill the rest of the time with her background in the film industry and Cavett asking her the questions that matter, like who was the most repulsive onscreen kisser, for example. Cavett is being a bit playful with questions like that but Davis is game (though in that case Davis answers without actually naming names) and she is very open touches on more personal subjects when Cavett brings them up. Unfortunately Henreidís interview isnít as in-depth: his is part of a 4-minute NBC segment on his career, though he explains where his characterís technique for lighting cigarettes for two people comes from in Now, Voyager.

Farran Smith Nehme next pops up for 31-minutes to talk about the film and Davisí performance, along with Davisí willingness here (and throughout her career) to appear unglamorous, something rare in Hollywood at the time. I most appreciated her offering some background on the original novelís author, Olive Higgins Prouty, and how aspects of her life influenced her novel, before Nehme gets into the changes the film made during the adaptation (changing one of the filmís locations, expanding Rainsí part, etc.) In the end the interview is more of a ďmaking-ofĒ but Nehme does an excellent job hitting all of the key details, and I was relieved to hear we agreed on the filmís weakest (and most obnoxious) sequence.

Fashion historian Larry McQueen (who also shows up on the All About Eve disc) talks for 11-minutes about designer Orry-Kelly and his collaborations with Davis, as well as his work in this film. Jeff Smith then talks about Max Steinerís score in the select-scene commentary that is its own 27-minute feature, breaking down the score and how it helps push a scene (ďleadĒ the audience) and define characters. He also talks about some of Steinerís other work, like King Kong. Criterion also includes two Lux Radio Theatre adaptations: one from 1943 featuring Ida Lupino and Paul Henreid, and then one from 1946 featuring Davis and Gregory Peck, running 46-minutes and 49-minutes respectively. As expected, the two really condense things down, speeding through, but the basic story is there. Interestingly it sounds as though the same script was used for each adaptation.

The release then comes with a booklet, first featuring an essay on the film by scholar Patricia White. Criterion also includes an essay written by Bette Davis for a 1937 book about the movie industry and the jobs within it, called ďWe Make the Movies.Ē Davis explains the duties of an actress, but she also gets a little into some of the shadier aspects, like how a studio might spin why an actor would leave the studio. Itís a great inclusion.

The features do a good job covering the filmís production, its source novel, and its star, though ultimately only a couple of them stick out.

8/10

CLOSING

The supplements do a fine job covering the film, the source, and its star, but the presentation is probably the key selling point to this release.


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